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One hundred and fifty-five patients aged 75 years and over with gastrointestinal haemorrhage were studied and compared with a series of patients aged under 75 years. The mortality in patients with gastric ulcer or gastric carcinoma was not affected by age. However, the mortality in patients with duodenal ulcer was greater in the over-75s (8/31 deaths in the over-75s, 4/77 deaths in the under-75s, P = 0.01). There was no reluctance to operate on the over-75s. These results can be used to help construct future trials to improve treatment.